New Year, Same Me
I don't make New Year's resolutions. (But if you do, I think that’s great!) When I do, it makes me feel bad because of the "New Year, New Me" ideology, and I think I'm okay with the version of me right now.
Don't get me wrong — I'm constantly working on myself and setting small goals, which I hope fosters growth. But if I do too much at once, it fuels my major depression and anxiety, and the negative self-talk begins. Then comes the negative coping mechanisms. From there I could fall into a depressive episode. It doesn’t take much.
New year, same depression
So you can understand why the holidays and beginning of the year are stressful for me. But they don't have to be. It's the "New Year's resolution" cycle of thinking that I must release"
- I don't have to lose weight because it's everybody else's goal
- Whatever my ambition, it's not all or nothing – my day (or goal) is not ruined if I don't stick to my plan entirely
- Guilt needs no part of this process
- There's no time limit on my success
- Failure is not really failure, it's a lesson and valuable experience
- Comparison is the thief of joy
Principles I also apply to my depression
As I'm writing, I realize that most of these principles I have applied to my recovery from depression (and my laundry list of other diagnoses).
In 2019, I was hospitalized for 6 weeks for depression, suicidal ideation, etc. While there, my medications were changed, and I had about 12-15 electroconvulsive therapy treatments. I also did intensive individual and family therapy, and I took classes on positive coping skills, substance abuse recovery and more.
I felt confident to go home to my husband and two small children, but when I finally did make it home, I was overwhelmed to say the least.
Is your depression impacted by holidays and/or seasonal change?
The reality of real life
While hospitalized, it was almost a luxury staying at the hospital where I could focus only on me and be the focus of a team of doctors and specialists.
At home, my then 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son didn't care if I was about to have an anxiety attack or if I needed a quick break. This was real life, and I had to switch back to “Mom Mode” fast. Eventually I found balance.
Setting small goals with depression
I'm not cured. The odds are that I will have another major depressive episode. But these past few years have been the best of my life.
I still have bad days, sure, but now I know how to get through them without hurting myself in some way. And it's all thanks to the small goals and principles that I have made and followed along the way (plus my support network).
Taking (baby) steps into the new year
I usually dread every January because of resolutions, but that's my issue, not anyone else's
It's okay that there's no "New Year, New Me." This me is shaping up to be pretty good, molded by searing mental anguish most people can’t understand, but also the happiest 4 (almost 5) years of my life. A happiness I never thought possible because my life was so dark and painful.
I'll continue with baby steps and small goals. I'll take it slow. It's a New Year, but same me. And that's okay.
Had you ever heard about depression before you were diagnosed?
Have you taken our Depression In America Survey yet?